Leora Shipley is gearing up for the Woman2Warrior adventure race to support BC Easter Seals Camps on behalf of her son Nathan

One tough mother

Twelve obstacles are no obstacle for Leora Shipley, who is fundraising for BC Easter Seals Camps on behalf of her son.

It goes without saying that Leora Shipley’s heart will race on May 24.

She’ll be exhausted, sweaty, wet and dirty, and possibly bruised after a five-kilometre, 12-obstacle adventure race in and around Swangard Stadium in Burnaby.

She’s unsure whether a currently broken toe will rebel at the exertion.

But certainly, there will be a smile on the face of the White Rock mother – even after she hits the (real) wall, which she’ll climb over at the end.

The challenge, called Woman2Warrior, is a way for Shipley to give back to the people who have helped her son over the years.

Nathan, 19, has a severe form of cerebral palsy and has very limited us of his arms or legs.

The Earl Marriott Secondary student, who graduated with honours last year, spent most of his teen summers at Camp Squamish, run by BC Easter Seals.

“It was probably the biggest thing he would look forward to all year,” says his mom, who has experienced the difficulties of parenting a son who needs constant care and supervision.

“She’s doing it for a good cause,” says Nathan, who works part-time as a community ambassador for Hunky Haulers, a Cloverdale clutter removal company.

Photo: Jason Shipley, 9, Nathan Shipley, 19, and Leora Shipley. Photo by Boaz Joseph / The Leader

Leora says that, with Nathan’s physical disabilities, people always see his wheelchair first.

The Easter Seals camp did away with that – they let him be himself.

Thirty-three-acre Camp Squamish, located at the foot of Mount Garibaldi and the mouth of the Squamish River, provides five six-day sessions each summer for hundreds of kids with various physical and mental disabilities.

Up until 2012, admission was free – with funds raised by Easter Seals and its parent charity, the BC Lions Society for Children with Disabilities.

In 2013, the admission cost for each child was raised to $100, and in 2014, $500.

The costs were meant to offset fundraising difficulties and the actual operational cost for each child – about $2,400.

Parents have generally accepted the new reality, said Stephen Miller, president and CEO of the BC Lions Society for Children with Disabilities and BC Easter Seals, during an interview last year.

Miller said that unlike other camps for children with specific diseases such as cancer or diabetes, the nature of the Easter Seals camps – for kids with a variety of disabilities – means that volunteers cannot be used, and the camps provide ratios of just one, two or three campers for each properly trained and paid staff member, to ensure proper safety and support.

About 900 kids go each summer to Camp Squamish and the other two Easter Seals camps, Camp Shawnigan on Vancouver Island and Camp Winfield in the Okanagan Valley.

Parents got into the action with the Woman2Warrior obstacle race starting in 2013.

This will be Leora’s third such test of strength, endurance and agility, so she knows what to expect – including the sideline support from her husband Peter and Nathan’s younger brother, Jason, 9.

In her first year, Leora ran alone among the crowd.

She had a team of three in 2014 and this year she will be joined by her sister-in-law and three co-workers.

Leora has raised $3,400 for the BC Easter Seals Camps since 2013.

Her team, despite their training, can predict how they’ll feel by the end of the race.

Appropriately, they’re called Scrambled Legs.

For more information, to sign up, or to support a team, visit www.woman2warrior.ca/

Surrey North Delta Leader

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